With the cold weather continuing and the holiday season being over, I have been trying to eat healthier and have also been getting tired of winter. This smoothie was my temporarily getaway from winter this morning. As someone that was born in the Spring, once the holidays are over, I look forward to Spring and wish for the rest of winter to be gone. Since fresh berries are very expensive in the winter and aren’t very fresh, I used frozen berries and milk in this smoothie. Frozen berries are often cheaper this time a year, I get mine from Trader Joe’s. I also used vanilla protein powder to give it the “cream” effect and to make me full longer. Just be sure to check the protein powder you buy for gluten, some brands are not gluten free. I used Designer Whey vanilla, which is gluten free and is sweetened with Stevia. This is perfect for a light breakfast or shared with someone as a snack or healthy dessert. Here is the recipe:
Berries and Cream Protein Smoothie – Makes 1 large smoothie or 2 smaller smoothies
2 cups of frozen mixed berries (my frozen blend had strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries)
1 1/2 cups of milk (any kind of milk will work)
1 scoop of vanilla protein powder
Place frozen mixed berries and milk in the blender and puree until everything is blended together and all chunks of fruit are completely smooth. Feel free to add additional milk if you want your smoothie to be thinner.
Add vanilla protein and blend until protein powder is completely blended with the smoothie mixture.
With this being my first holiday season eating gluten free, I have had to make some adjustments to a few traditions. For many years now I have baked cookies over the holidays to bring to work and to serve to friends and family who visit. This easy to make cookie is one of the successes I had this season with baking cookies. They can be decorated with colored sugar or simply rolled in white sugar like I did with mine.
You can purchase a gluten free flour in most stores now in the baking or health food aisle to make these. Xanthan gum is also usually in those aisles. You also can visit an Asian store like I did to buy rice and tapioca flours. The Asian flours sold there are often cheaper and are finely milled (meaning your baked goods won’t come out gritty). Each 1 pound bag I bought cost me $1 to $1.25. If you have access to an Asian store like I do, I recommend visiting there and saving some money on flour as well as other items (they sell many naturally gluten free items there like rice noodles, rice paper to make rolls, nori paper for sushi, etc). Most of my gluten free flours that I have come from there these days. The rest I buy from Trader Joe’s or Wegmans.
These cookies are perfect to bring to a family gathering, a party, or to simply enjoy. Also perfect for kids to put out for Santa. Here is the recipe:
Butter Cookies – Makes 2 to 3 dozen
1 cup of slightly softened butter, approximately 2 sticks
1 1/2 cups of gluten free flour (I used 3/4 cup of white rice flour, 1/2 cup of glutinous (sweet) rice flour, and 1/4 cup of tapioca starch for my flour blend).
4 teaspoons of xanthan gum
1 cup of powdered sugar
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
White sugar for rolling the cookies in (about 1 cup)
Cooking spray or butter for greasing the baking sheet(s)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Put butter and powdered sugar into mixing bowl and blend with mixer until both are fully combined.
Add flour(s), sugar, vanilla, and xanthan gum to butter mixture.
Mix for at least 5 minutes on medium to high speed or until dough has fully come together.
Spray or butter baking sheet(s) for cookies so that they are easier to remove later.
Roll cookies using about 1 Tablespoon of dough per cookie.
Roll each cookie in sugar. To make these festive you can sprinkle the top of each one with colored sugar.
Place each cookie on the baking sheet, leaving some room in between each cookie. Do not press the cookies down unless you want them to be completely flat, they do flatten out.
Bake for 9-12 minutes or until the edges start to lightly brown.
Remove from oven and let cool for at least a few minutes before removing them from the baking sheet(s).
Serve and enjoy. These are great for the holidays or anytime.
I have noticed that many people have a preference for salty or sweet when it comes to snacks. I am more of a sweets person and often like to have something sweet for my evening snack/dessert after dinner. However, eating cookies, cake, candy, and other sweet treats are not something I want to be eating everyday for health reasons. On an average night I usually do healthier desserts like these baked apples. Baked apples are perfect for a healthier dessert that is delicious and takes care of that sweet craving. I have been making these for several years now in the fall and winter months when apples are in season and are cheaper to buy than most other fruits. These are great on their own or served with vanilla ice cream, vanilla yogurt (regular or Greek works), or whipped cream.
Sugar N Spice Baked Apples – Serves 2
1 Tablespoon of dark brown sugar, packed
1/4 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon of pumpkin pie spice
1 Tablespoon of softened butter or margarine
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Wash and dry apples. Cut the apples in half and remove the core.
Place apples on a small, non-stick cookie sheet with the cut, flat side facing up.
Mix brown sugar, pumpkin pie spice, and cinnamon together in a small bowl to make your sugar and spice mix.
Spread the top of each apple with butter.
Coat each apple half with the sugar and spice mix.
Bake apples for 25-30 minutes or until apples are fork tender and soft.
Serve on its own or with Vanilla ice cream, vanilla yogurt, or whipped cream and enjoy.
Like many others this time of year, I am currently enjoying the leaves changing colors and the cooler weather. I also enjoy the seasonal foods like pumpkin, apples, and many other fall seasonal foods and treats. This rice pudding is one that showcases a seasonal fall food and can be dessert or breakfast. This pudding is basically pumpkin pie filling and rice pudding coming together and becoming a delicious dish of its own.
Pumpkin Spice Rice Pudding – Serves 2 to 4
3/4 cup of uncooked rice
1 1/2 cups of milk
1/2 cup of sugar
1/4 teaspoon of salt
2 eggs, whisked together
1 15 oz can of pumpkin
1 teaspoon of cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon of pumpkin pie spice
1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract
Bring 1 1/2 cups water to a boil in a large saucepan and stir the rice into the boiling water.
Reduce the pan to low heat, cover, and simmer for 20 minutes.
Drain rice and combine 1 1/2 cups of cooked rice, 1 cup of milk, pumpkin, pumpkin pie spice, cinnamon, sugar, vanilla, and salt into a large saucepan.
Cook over medium heat until thick and creamy, about 15 to 20 minutes. Be sure to stir the mixture every few minutes.
Whisk eggs and remaining 1/2 cup of milk together.
Stir in milk and egg mixture and cook for two more minutes, stirring constantly.
Remove from heat and allow pudding to cool in a large container for at least 1 hour in the refrigerator. Serve and enjoy!
I have had a few successes and some major errors when it comes to baking gluten free desserts. This is the widely shared and used flourless peanut butter cookie recipe on various recipe websites taken to the next level. I have made that recipe which usually has 1 cup of peanut butter, 1 cup of sugar, and 1 egg. I found it to be a good cookie, but too sweet for me. After a few tweaks and the addition of chocolate chips, I have come up with a moist, delicious cookie that will satisfy every peanut butter and chocolate craving. I made this final, perfected recipe and doubled the recipe to make a large batch of cookies. I brought these cookies to one of my closest friend’s birthday party yesterday. I hope you enjoy these as much as my friends and I did. Perfect to enjoy for a special treat at home or double the recipe for a party or gathering with friends and/or family.
Flourless Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies – Makes about 2 dozen cookies
1 cup of peanut butter
1/2 cup of white sugar
1/4 cup of dark brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon of pure vanilla extract
1 large egg
1/2 cup of semisweet or dark chocolate chips
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
In a medium bowl, mix the peanut butter, brown sugar, white sugar, vanilla, and egg until well combined.
Add chocolate chips and gently mix them in until they are evenly dispersed through the dough.
Use 1 tablespoon of the mixture per cookie and place cookies about 1 inch apart onto cookie sheets. Roll cookie into ball and slightly flatten each cookie with a fork or the palm of your hand (if you over flatten them, they will end up more crunchier and flat instead of soft and chewy).
Bake until golden around the edges or about 10 to 12 minutes. Leave cookies on cookie sheets for about 10 to 15 minutes.
Then gently remove cookies with spatula and put cookies onto a cooling rack or a big plate.
Serve and enjoy when cookies are cooled to room temperature, which will take about 1 hour. These cookies taste best when they are room temperature. Store cookies in a tightly sealed container or Ziploc bag, they will be good for at least a few days.
I have been enjoying the fresh peaches that late summer brings. While I love some of the fall produce like winter squashes and apples, summer fruits like peaches are delicious and special. Here is an easy sorbet you can make in a minute or two without an ice cream maker that is slightly sophisticated and refreshing. This is perfect to serve at a party or on a summer evening for a delicious, cool treat.
Sparkling Peach Sorbet – Makes 1 bigger serving or 2 smaller servings
2 large sliced and peeled peaches, frozen or 3 cups of frozen peach slices
1/4 cup or 2 oz of your favorite sparkling white wine or sparkling apple cider. (I used verdi spumante)
1/2 to 1 tsp of Sugar if peaches aren’t completely ripe. (optional)
1. Freeze sliced peaches for at least 3-4 hours if using non-frozen ones.
2. Add peaches and sparking wine to food processor.
3. Blend ingredients together into everything is fully blended.
4. Taste and add sugar if needed, then blend sugar with peaches and sparkling wine.
5. Serve in bowl and enjoy!
Sorry for the less than perfect picture, this sorbet was not easy to get to look pretty. This is a nice alternative to water ice or a packaged sorbet or sherbet that can be whipped together in just a few minutes.
One of the hardest parts of eating and cooking gluten free for me is dessert. Baking gluten free can be very frustrating. Especially when you are new at gluten free baking. I am still learning how to bake gluten free and I have been gluten free for almost six months. As difficult as baking gluten free can be, this recipe is very easy to make and other than the almond flour/meal, all of the ingredients are easy to find at your local supermarket. This cake is not only great for dessert with some ice cream or whipped cream, but also on its own for breakfast.
Luckily, if you own a food processor, blender, or coffee grinder, you can easily make your own almond flour, almond meal, and other nut flours at home. For almond flour, you pulse blanched almonds in your blender, coffee grinder, or food processor until ground. Almond meal uses regular almonds and will be less fine in texture than almond flour. When pulsing the nuts, be sure not to over grind the nuts or you may end up with almond butter. Then sift the almond flour into a bowl using a sifter and store for later use. For additional instructions and visuals for making almond flour and almond meal, read this: http://www.pastrypal.com/2010/12/pastry-technique-make-your-own-almond-flour/. This method can be also used to make other nut flours.
Cinnamon Almond Cake in a Mug – Serves 1 to 2 Ingredients:
2 tablespoons of unsweetened applesauce
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon of pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons of dark brown sugar, unpacked
1/8 teaspoon of baking soda
1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon of almond flour or almond meal (I used almond meal from Trader Joe’s)
1/8 tsp of salt
Put dark brown sugar, cinnamon, salt, baking soda, and almond flour into a small bowl.
Mix everything in the bowl together.
Add 1 large egg, vanilla extract, and unsweetened applesauce into bowl.
Stir until all ingredients are completely mixed together.
Spoon mixture into a coffee mug. Make sure you use at least a standard sized mug or a bigger mug.
Microwave for 1 minute and 15 seconds to 2 minutes, depending on the wattage of your microwave (I have a 1300 watt microwave and my cake took 1 minute and 15 seconds). After the first 30 seconds, you may have to open the door of your microwave every 15 to 20 seconds for a few seconds due to the cake rising while cooking.
Enjoy! Great on its own or with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, some vanilla or cream cheese frosting, or whipped cream.